GALLIAGH middleweight, Conor Coyle is just one step away from contesting for an Irish Elite title at the National Stadium as he takes on former EU champion, Ray Sheahan in a mouth-watering semi-final at the Dublin venue tomorrow night.
SIMON COLLINS reports
It’s a tall order for the powerful 22 year-old who continues to fly the flag for the city at the prestigious championships as he faces the three times Elite champion from Co. Kildare but his coach, Cahir Duffy is supremely confident his man can reach his second successive Irish title decider.
Of course in last year’s championships, Coyle retired from the competition following his semi-final victory having sustained a broken hand and he subsequently missed out on facing Darren O’Neill in the televised light-heavyweight final.
Therefore he is determined to reach next weekend’s middleweight showpiece to make up for that bitter disappointment.
And although he will be considered underdog against Sheahan of St Michael’s, Athy - who represented Ireland in both the World and European championships - his coach believes he has what it takes to go all the way this year.
“Conor broke his hand in the semi-finals last year and wasn’t able to compete in the final but we’re one fight away from another National final and that’s the biggest incentive right now,” said Duffy.
“Yes it’s going to be tough to get there but he’s sparred with Sheahan before and knows exactly what to expect,” he added. “There’s just as much pressure on Sheahan as there is on Conor, if not more so, so it will be down to whoever shows up on the day. But I’ve no doubt he can go all the way and win the title.”
Sheahan emerged victorious from his only meeting with Coyle three years ago in one of the Galliagh man’s first senior contests, however, his coach claims that will have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of tomorrow’s semi-final.
“At this level it doesn’t matter who you come up against because it’s always going to be tough but it’s going to be a tough night for Roy Sheahan as well.
“Conor fought him before when he was just coming out of Under-18 level and taking his first step up to senior level in a show. He performed well that night and the fight was level going into the last round but Sheahan’s experience paid off and he ended up winning 9-6 on that occasion.
“That result doesn’t matter now. Conor goes into his semi-final full of confidence and he’s more than capable of getting to the final and winning an Irish title.”
Indeed, he will go into his bout in confident mood following his outstanding performances en route to winning the Ulster Elite title at ‘The Venue’, Ebrington last month and of course his impressive second round stoppage of Tolerton’s Brian Cahill in the quarter-finals.
And he will be inspired by the sensational elimination of Irish Olympian and reigning Irish champion, Darren O’Neill who exited the competition at the hands of Finn Valley ABC’s Jason Quigley in the quarter-finals.
“I said before the tournament began that out of the 10 boxers in the division who have entered the competition, there were four or five who could beat each other on any certain day and on Saturday that proved to be the case as Darren O’Neill was beat by Donegal’s Jason Quigley. Therefore it will come down to whoever turns up with their best performance on the night and anyone can win it.”
Also featuring in the semi-finals at the South Circular Road venue will be Illies Golden Gloves member, William McLaughlin who continues his quest for National Elite Boxing glory in the welterweight semi-final.
The Buncrana boxer will trade punches with John Joe Joyce, St. Michael’s, Athy, for place in the welterweight final in what is being billed as one of the fights of the weekend.
McLaughlin is no stranger to winning national titles and the Italian Thunder member will be bouyed by his World Series of Boxing victory over Germany’s Stephan Haertel who defeated Darren O’Neill at London 2012.
Meanwhile, Raphoe ABC’s Caroline Connolly from Strabane, and three times Ulster champion, will contest her first ever Elite Women’s Senior Championship final tomorrow night.
The Raphoe boxer will face the reigning 75Kg champion Sinead Kavanagh, Drimnagh BC, after both fighters received a bye.